Mrs. Lyuba Ranevsky
Mrs. Ranevksy is a middle-aged Russian woman, the owner of the estate and the cherry orchard around which the story revolves. She has faced tragedy many times in her life, or rather has tried to escape from it. Her first name, "Lyuba," means "love" in Russian, and she seems to exemplify love with her generosity, kindness and physical beauty, and sexual nature; she is the only character in the play with a lover. But her feelings of love often cloud her judgment, and she is also unable to control her spending, a sign of her disconnection from her present status as an impoverished aristocrat.
A businessman, and the son of peasants on Ranevsky's estate. He is middle-aged, but somewhat younger than Ranevsky. His grandparents were in fact owned by the Ranevsky family before freedom was granted to the serfs. Lopakhin is extremely self-conscious, especially in the presence of Ranevsky, perpetually complaining about his lack of education and refinement, which he attributes to his upbringing as a peasant on Ranevsky's estate. His memories of the brutality of a peasant child's life on the estate contrast with Ranevsky's idyllic memories as a child of the landowning class.
in-depth analysis of Yermolay Lopakhin.
Gayev is Ranevsky's brother. He has several intriguing verbal habits; he frequently describes tricky billiards shots at odd and inappropriate times. He also will launch into overly sentimental and rhetorical speeches before his niece Anya stops him, after which he always mutters "I am silent" at least once. Gayev is a kind and concerned uncle and brother, but he behaves very differently around people not of his own social class. He is fifty-one years old, but as he notes, this is "difficult to believe", because he is in many ways an infant. He constantly pops sweets into his mouth, insults people (such as Lopakhin) with whom he disagrees, and has to be reminded to put on his jacket by Firs.
Varya is Ranevksy's adopted daughter, who is twenty-four years old. She is in love with Lopakhin, but she doubts that he will ever propose to her. Varya is hard-working and responsible and has a similar work ethic to Lopakhin. She is also something of cry-baby, often in tears; but this may reflect her sense of powerlessness, as she is the one character in the play who may be most affected by the loss of the estate. She is the estate's manager, so she will lose her job if Ranevsky loses the estate, but, lacking money or a husband, she has no control over its fate or her own.
Ranevksy's biological daughter, Anya is seventeen years old. She seems to have lived a sheltered life. She greatly enjoys the company of Trofimov and his lofty idealism, and is quick to comfort her mother after the loss of her orchard. Anya and Trofimov become so close that Varya fears they may become romantically involved.
A student at the local university, he knows Ranevsky from tutoring her son Grisha before he died. Lopakhin refers to Trofimov as the "eternal student," for he has been in university most of his adult life. He serves as a foil for both Lopakhin and Ranevsky; Trofimov's ugliness, belief that he is "above love", and forward-looking nature contrasts with Ranevsky's beauty, her idealistic vision of love, and her obsession with the past, while his utopian idealism contrasts with Lopakhin's practicality and materialism.
in-depth analysis of Peter Trofimov.
A nobleman, and fellow landowner, who is, like Ranevsky, in financial difficulties. Pischik is characterized mainly by his boundless optimism—he is always certain he will find the money somehow to pay for the mortgages that are due—but also by his continual borrowing money from Ranevsky. Pischik is something of a caricature; his name, in Russian, means "squealer," appropriate for someone who never stops talking.
Anya's governess. Charlotte traveled from town-to-town performing tricks such as "the dive of death" when she was very young, before her Father and Mother both died. Charlotte is something of a clown, performing tricks for the amusement of the elite around her, such as Yasha, Ranevsky, and Yopakhin, while, at the same time, subtly mocking their pre-occupations.
Ranevsky's eighty-seven-year-old manservant. Firs is always talking about how things were in the past on the estate, when the estate was prosperous, and the master went to Paris by carriage, instead of by train; most importantly, he frequently talks about how life was before the serfs were freed. He is possibly senile, and is constantly mumbling. He is the only surviving link to the estate's glorious past, and he comes to symbolize that past.
Yephikodov is a clerk at the Ranevsky estate. He is a source of amusement for all the other workers and amusement for all the other workers, who refer to him as "Simple Simon". Yephikodov provides comic relief, with his self-conscious pose as the hopeless lover and romantic, often contemplating suicide. He loves Dunyasha, to whom he has proposed.
Yasha is the young manservant who has been traveling with Ranevsky ever since she left for France. He is always complaining about how uncivilized Russia is when compared to France, exploits Dunyasha's love for him for physical pleasure, and openly tells Firs that he is so old he should die. Most of the characters besides Ranevsky regard him as repulsive and obnoxious. He has a strong taste for acrid-smelling cigars.
A maid on the Ranevsky estate. She functions mainly as a foil to Yasha, her innocent naïveté and love for him emphasizing and making clear his cynicism and selfishness. She is also the object of Yephikodov's affections, a status about which she is very confused.